When I first started working in health outcomes research, I quickly became overwhelmed with the vast array of variables that impact health. There are socioeconomic factors, genetics, environmental conditions, behavior – how can anyone truly understand the biggest factors to tackle to improve a health condition? A frequent thought was “I am going to need to get an MBA, MPH, MD and 2 more Ph.D.’s if I’m going to survive in this world and make a difference!”
Now, there is no possible way that any one person can hold all of the knowledge relevant to a health outcome. I know some extremely smart people, but even they can’t ‘know it all.’ This is where the beauty of teams and collaborations that include individuals with a broad array of skill sets is important. Those varied skill sets can be more than just differences in educational backgrounds. Team diversity also includes different communication styles, points of view and organizational skills (amongst a million other things). Sometimes your role in a project or meeting is the intellectual knowledge that you bring. Other times, it’s the skill of helping others communicate more effectively or helping turn ideas into action.
While I still suffer from ‘education envy’ at times and occasionally entertain the idea of getting further education in an area, I am much more humble about the role that I play within research teams and realize that I don’t have to ‘know it all’ to play an important part. I’ve also realized that sometimes my contribution lies in the scientific knowledge I bring to the table, but other times it is in seeing connections that others may not readily identify. It is important to have a solid understanding of your strengths and knowledge and also of the strengths and knowledge of others.
What are the ways that you contribute to discussions and projects that you are in? Are you truly bringing your skill sets to the table to enhance and move the projects and discussions forward?